In The Magazine Of The Paper Of Record
For it's size, and the relatively large scope of its topic, the article does a strong job laying out issues. I want only to respond to this quote by the Senior Vice President of Recruiting: “We are completely agnostic about what people do after their two years.”
1) The talking point situation within the TFA power structure has gotten completely out-of-hand. I can no longer count the number of times a TFA employee has used the word agnostic to describe the organization's stance with regard to teaching past the two-year cut-off, both in person and in print.
2) TFA is not "agnostic." I believe that in TFA a) nothing is accidental and b) frequency of occurrence connotes degree of importance. TFA chooses to highlight, and thus place value upon certain accomplishments and courses of actions -- grade school acceptance rate, charter schools, corporate partnerships -- at a much higher rate than anything having to do with teaching. An organizational agnosticism would be evidenced by a far more equal distribution of PR.
3) TFA should not be "agnostic." You got us here by fetishizing the role of teacher. You filled heads and hearts with the powerful stories of life-change, and some people had experiences that matched the rhetoric. You demanded improvement and set high expectations for corps members to succeed a level beyond that which most teachers achieve, and some people did just that. Two years later you're "agnostic"? From whence does this agnosticism derive? This institutional schizophrenia smacks of self-promotion and a certain amount of blindness. TFA has been around for over a decade at this point. All those folks running off to engage the "second half of the mission" should have had a demonstrable effect on public education at this point. How exactly have all the doctors, lawyers, investment bankers, and grad students with two years teaching experience improved the educational outcomes of America's poor?
In thinking and writing about TFA's second half of the mission, some folks (here, for example) bring up the examples of The New Teacher Project, Michelle Rhee, and the little KIPPers. Once, maybe, what was meant by the second half of the mission was folks who continue to work in education as principals, central office staff, non-profit founders, consultants, etc. No longer. For TFA, the second half of the mission has nothing at all to do with education. They say so themselves. The second half of the mission is former teachers working in politics, former teachers getting elected to things, former teachers winning awards, starting companies, and so on. The second half isn't other stuff in education that isn't teaching; the second half is the nebulus, non-data driven, PR-dependent movement to make TFA corps members be to America what the Hapsburgs once were to Europe.
My mom said I sounded "whiny."